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UCITA By the Back Door

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the get-off-my-lawn-forcement dept.

Government 174

InfoWorld's Gripelog airs a subject that should interest this community — involved as we were with efforts against UCITA back in the day. One main aim of the derailed UCITA initiative was to give software manufacturers and content owners a degree of control over users' computers. Gripelog's Ed Foster informs us that UCITA is sneaking back in, under the cover of an anti-spyware bill, S. 1625, now making its way through the US Senate. One clause in this draft bill would legalize what the BSA calls "electronic self help" — i.e., the ability for commercial entities to cripple or disable software or networks on your computer if they believe you are violating their property rights.

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174 comments

pots? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23816839)

first...

lord this is pathetic.

business opportunity (5, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#23816891)

"(10) detection or prevention of the unauthorized use of software fraudulent or other illegal activities."

When I hear of something like this, the first thing that occurs to me is how valuable the keys or mechanism or whatever that actually does the "preventing", how badly the criminal element would want to get hold of that information, and the inevitability that this will happen when the right price is found for whomever holds the keys.

In other words, this kind of thing will eventually, inevitably, be used for nefarious purposes.

Led Zep Back Door Man (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23816995)

Member when ZEP used to do like I'll be your backdoor man man? That was cool man. You get it?

Re:Led Zep Back Door Man (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23817085)

...'Member the "This is your brain on drugs" TV spots, with an egg sizzling in a frying pan? No, no, I don't think you do.

Re:business opportunity (4, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 5 years ago | (#23816999)

In other words, this kind of thing will eventually, inevitably, be used for nefarious purposes.

You mean, like by the government or the corporations? This is not potential abuse, it is abuse on its face. Stop with the "criminals might get access", it's criminals that have the access right now!

Re:business opportunity (0)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817621)

Let them!! Seriously, it'll make more converts to Linux and open source so that we can finally do away with these asshats. They can't cry about piracy if their sales drop because the American public(and any foreign people affected) take their business elsewhere because this new law allowed for criminal interests to hijack their computers.

Re:business opportunity (1)

bgillespie (1228056) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818193)

The problem is, will Joe Average and his old Aunt Tillie be tech savvy enough to know or to care that their computers are compromised? There's a rather large portion of the American public that lives with loads of spyware running on their computers, and these sorts of people are not going to be the discerning consumers you suggest.

Re:business opportunity (4, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818677)

I'm not so sure. As I read the bill, there is nothing that requires the intruder to be correct in its belief that someone is using unlicensed proprietary software. Under the bill, even though I run GNU/Linux and do not use any Microsoft products, what's to prevent Microsoft or some other vendor from breaking into my system and screwing with it, whether as a result of legitimate error or intentionally, for the purpose of protecting their software?

Re:business opportunity (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818863)

Let them!! Seriously, it'll make more converts to Linux and open source so that we can finally do away with these asshats.

That's the naive, optimistic view. The cynical, pessimistic view is that the people who are pushing for this truly awful law consider any use of F/OSS to be equivalent to piracy ("You're using software you didn't pay for, therefore you must be a pirate!") and they'll be able to find prosecutors, judges, and juries who can be duped into accepting this view.

Re:business opportunity (1)

Midnight Warrior (32619) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817533)

And it's actually this kind of nonsense that keeps otherwise great software from being used on government systems. Large, boring processes are in effect in lots of places that look for phone-home or open ports created by software. Once such a beast is found in any revision of a program, all future releases are tainted and no one is allowed to use them.

Of course, I say that, but XMLSpy and WGA do this and they still let it get used.

'Electronic Self-Help' (4, Insightful)

muellerr1 (868578) | more than 5 years ago | (#23816899)

That's the best euphemism I've ever heard for legitimized corporate spyware and DRM. Big software companies will finally be able help themselves to my electronic devices.

Is there a flip side? (3, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817161)

I wonder, can this be used to monitor GPL violations?

Re:Is there a flip side? (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817207)

But being GPL'd it would be just as easy to go into the source and take out the back doors and recompile it.

Re:Is there a flip side? (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817293)

it would be just as easy to go into the source and take out the back doors

I suppose people who violate the GPL wouldn't know how to do this. If you are good at coding you respect other people's code.

Re:Is there a flip side? (1)

debatem1 (1087307) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817545)

Genius is not always scrupulous, even when the right path is obnoxiously clear. The high road is not so obvious here, given the obvious conflict between the ideals of the Free Software movement and the intentions of the code's author, not to mention that such schemes are usually trivial to break given access to source.

Re:Is there a flip side? (1)

ejecta (1167015) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817709)

It would also be just as easy to review the code to understand its methods & concepts then apply these to your own code.

However people choose to simply copy entire portions, because they are lazy and think no one will know.

Never underestimate laziness.

Proprietary software: DRM gateway (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817285)

Only with your participation: by running proprietary software. Free software systems can be improved to continue to grant users power over their devices.

Self-Help & Much To-Do About Nothing. (4, Informative)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817367)

"Self-help" is kind of a legal term of the art for any extra-legal means that people use to resolve a dispute without the aid or sanction of the courts, usually with the implication of violent means of depriving people of property in dispute.

For quite enlightened reasons (and the more cynical would say selfish ones too), courts tend not to favor resolutions that encourage self-help. Courts are not going to interpret the phrase "detection or prevention of the unauthorized use of software fraudulent or other illegal activities" to allow for deprivations of or interference with the enjoyment of personal property without due process. This law can't be interpreted in any manner to set up a due process satisfying procedure, so it's pretty much unconstitutional if interpreted to allow remote disabling or (suspected) pirated property.

Assuming that the above language even means to imply the "software fraudulent" is a meaningful term, given that it appears nowhere else in the US Code, and there's no definitions section for the bill. The sentence makes a lot more sense if "...software for fraudulent..." was their intended language.

In that context, it seems less like a backdoor attempt to insert remote disabling into law and more like a phrase in line with preventing malware. UCITA was dangerous because it allowed people to contract away their protection against this sort of thing, which is less constitutionally suspect than just writing into law at large.

Re:Self-Help & Much To-Do About Nothing. (1, Interesting)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817385)

The sentence makes a lot more sense if "...software for fraudulent..." was their intended language.
Not that I can really criticize, given that the sentence before that one was missing a subject and verb, and the sentence before it had an "or" when an "of" was meant.

*sigh.

Re:Self-Help & Much To-Do About Nothing. (2, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817535)

...it's pretty much unconstitutional...

Aaaand... that means what, exactly?

Call it the CAN SPY Act. (2, Insightful)

Odder (1288958) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818039)

This is wishful thinking:

Courts are not going to interpret the phrase "detection or prevention of the unauthorized use of software fraudulent or other illegal activities" to allow for deprivations of or interference with the enjoyment of personal property without due process.

Like they kept NBC and Vista from blocking recording of TV shows? People holding the appropriate offices at the DOJ were probably cheering the censorship potential of that and they are rooting for even better illegal wiretaps.

It would be better to lose every major publisher than liberty. This bill shows that publishers would rather take your liberty than go away.

Re:Self-Help & Much To-Do About Nothing. (3, Interesting)

Talez (468021) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818085)

For quite enlightened reasons (and the more cynical would say selfish ones too), courts tend not to favor resolutions that encourage self-help. Courts are not going to interpret the phrase "detection or prevention of the unauthorized use of software fraudulent or other illegal activities" to allow for deprivations of or interference with the enjoyment of personal property without due process. This law can't be interpreted in any manner to set up a due process satisfying procedure, so it's pretty much unconstitutional if interpreted to allow remote disabling or (suspected) pirated property.

But that's the thing. The vendors do not consider said software your personal property. They consider it to be their property that you have a license to use and they would no doubt argue that all the way to the SCOTUS.

Re:Self-Help & Much To-Do About Nothing. (1)

HJED (1304957) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818797)

....yes and the world is a cube. NOT plus pepole have to be able (finacialy) to go to cour first

Re:'Electronic Self-Help' (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818031)

And we'll be able to shut down government websites because they cause us harm. Right? .... RIGHT??

Can O Worms (4, Insightful)

niiler (716140) | more than 5 years ago | (#23816913)

So if an entity (any virus writer, for example), incorporates, then it's legal for them to mess with your computer? All they need to do is claim that they have evidence that you are infringing some property rights of theirs?

Is Congress insane?

The real answer is that they don't tend to think of consequences. Rather they are more interested in rewarding their friends and financiers.

Close (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817103)

They are certainly interested in rewarding their friends and financiers, but they are mainly interested in sound bite politics. It's an election year.

Re:Can O Worms (1)

cyberchuck.nz (1307417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817607)

So if an entity (any virus writer, for example), incorporates, then it's legal for them to mess with your computer? All they need to do is claim that they have evidence that you are infringing some property rights of theirs?

Didn't Sony do this with their root-kit a while ago? Trying to protect "their rights" by installing hidden root-kits on PC's in an attempt to curb "piracy".

And we all remember how that went down

Re:Can O Worms (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23817825)

And we all remember how that went down

You mean them getting to hand over a few truckloads of unsellable CDs to libraries? I bet that taught them a lesson.

Re:Can O Worms (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818467)

The real answer is they can't even think of the consequences because they don't understand the problem, they vote what their lobbyists and cronies tell them. I'm fairly sure if you told the congress TCP is the acronym of the Chinese secret service, half of them nods in agreement.

Screw 'em I say! (5, Insightful)

zifferent (656342) | more than 5 years ago | (#23816941)

You know what, give the lousy ba$tards what they want! They more than anyone else deserve it, and once they start disabling computers willy-nilly it will only beat a path to the OSS door. Why would any company in their right mind turn their entire company over to the trust of a greedy software vendor? They might as well hand over their bank-account numbers and power-of-attorney to BSA while their at it.

It will frankly create a situation ripe for software-license blackmail and extortion.

If they're so intent on shooting themselves in the foot, all the better for the rest of the world. Enough is enough.

Re:Screw 'em I say! (1)

mpthompson (457482) | more than 5 years ago | (#23816993)

That works fine until the same ba$tards outlaw OSS since it allows a user to work around their "Electronic Self-Help". Can't have that, can we?

Re:Screw 'em I say! (5, Insightful)

JPLemme (106723) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817377)

I used to perform disaster recovery testing for a very big company. There was one particular test where a critical application wouldn't run because it was registered to the CPU's serial number and the software was refusing to run on the hardware at the DR facility. I'm pretty sure that the majority of proprietary mainframe apps work this way.

The data restoration couldn't begin until the vendor fixed the license issue, which took ~45 minutes. Since we had a 12 hour recovery limit that was a long time. We worked with the vendor to make sure that our DR process wouldn't be affected by this issue, and it never happened again.

Ergo, many companies in their right minds trust their vendors, just like they trust their banks not to steal their money. The difference between Very Big Companies and you is that each VBC is worth millions of dollars to the vendor, and screwing one VBC can cause many other VBCs to defect to vendors they can trust. You, OTOH, are worth about $59.99 and if they screw you most of their other customers will never know about it.

Re:Screw 'em I say! (3, Interesting)

cyberchuck.nz (1307417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817581)

It will frankly create a situation ripe for software-license blackmail and extortion.

Had that problem with AutoDesk a while back. One of our remote sites wanted to transfer an AutoCAD licence from one PC to another and decided the way to do this was without informing the IT Department.
Uninstalled it from PC #1, installed it on PC #2 and got stuck trying to "activate" it. The portable licence transfer utility got removed in the process, so we couldn't do the licence transfer ourselves. Email AutoDesk and not only would they not help us out, they demanded we give them proof of purchase for all our copies of AutoCAD otherwise they'd subject us to a software audit.

In the end we complied, gave them proof of purchase for all our AutoDesk software along with scans of the boxes (they list the serial number on the top) and we eventually got the required key out of them to activate the product on the new PC.
But this goes to show that the companies will do anything they can to extort the users of their software

Does it mean (4, Insightful)

jmv (93421) | more than 5 years ago | (#23816951)

GPL Violations [gpl-violations.org] is allowed (with author's permission) to break into the boxes of all GPL violators. *That* could be interesting.

Re:Does it mean (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817149)

GPL Violations [gpl-violations.org] is allowed (with author's permission) to break into the boxes of all GPL violators. *That* could be interesting.
Of course not. Open Source doesn't pay enough lobbyists to break the law. You have to bribe people a certain amount each year to get that privilege.

Re:Does it mean (2, Interesting)

caseih (160668) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817185)

Well the GPL doesn't apply to anyone until they are distributing software--it clearly states one can *use* the software under the GPL without agreeing to the license until I distribute the software to others. Then of course the full force of the GPL applies. Thus I can run GPL'd code in proprietary software all I want as long as it never leaves my machine. Obviously the people who are distributing this kind of software would definitely be in violation of the GPL. But I don't really see how the UCITA applies to end users here in the case of GPL'd software.

Re:Does it mean (1)

Compuser (14899) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817249)

But it could mean that if I were an author of some GPL software and I were to suspect the product from some manufacturer to use my GPL software without giving away source code then it would be OK for me to hack into their systems, "self help" myself to the code and start distributing it. Now there are lots of rumor there that Windows uses GPL code without compliance though no evidence as yet. But that could be enough for someone to legally hack Microsoft and if any small violation were found then to release full Windows source to the public. This could get very interesting very fast.

Re:Does it mean (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818487)

I do hereby assume you distribute software that you derived from GPLed software. If I got the law right, you have to prove you're innocent.

So, would you please open the ports?

According to this bill (5, Insightful)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 5 years ago | (#23816967)

consider provisions of this bill "do not apply to any monitoring of, or interaction with, a subscriber's Internet or other network connection or service, or a protected computer, by or at the direction of a telecommunications carrier, cable operator, computer hardware or software provider, financial institution or provider of information services or interactive computer service..."

and "(10) detection or prevention of the unauthorized use of software fraudulent or other illegal activities."

Well clearly, as per the article they are slipping in "any enforcement we choose" actions regarding the ability of the BSA (etc) to pry into your computer with spyware like tools...

But worse, the spyware perpetrators themselves gain free immunity to all their spyware actions if they can proved they are "a provider of an information service" which, in fact, they are. They provide my information to their paying customers.

Now not only is spyware made penalty free (by accident) but Auditing Trojans that "accidentally" destroy all your data while "trying to detect" whether you have stolen Barbie's Big Adventure

The corporations, both legal and illegal, now own your computer in every way that matters.

Ta Da!

Re:According to this bill (4, Interesting)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817305)

Just curious. Would this mean that software companies would have to make different versions of their software for the Canadian market? Since the bill only applies to the spying on and infringing of the rights of Americans. I would assume that these sorts shenanigans would be fairly illegal here in Canada because of our privacy laws.

If worse comes to worse you could start buying your software from Canada, or it might be as easy as ticking Canada as your country during the installation process...

Re:According to this bill (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818413)

If worse comes to worse you could start buying your software from Canada, or it might be as easy as ticking Canada as your country during the installation process...
Or change the locale in your OS.

Re:According to this bill (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818511)

Nah, they wait 'til the law passes and watch whether there is any backlash or fallout. Then they start something similar to what the Berne Convention is for copyright and start pressing down on other countries 'til they cave in.

And given that the average government, no matter where, is quite favorable towards companies that sell thin air (i.e. content), since it doesn't require the import of a lot of resources while allowing the export of ... well, something that makes money, I'm sure it's gonna fly.

Re:According to this bill (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818787)

At this point I'm thinking that USA is heading towards a point where a lot of software companies will just move out of USA and leave them high and dry. This is of course pure conjecture but it's already happened to plenty of encryption software, especially OSS, given the now pointless export laws in the USA.

Re:According to this bill (1)

Heather D (1279828) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818753)

Hmm, I wonder if Microsoft knew about this when they decided to patent spyware in the OS kernel?

contempt (5, Interesting)

nuzak (959558) | more than 5 years ago | (#23816989)

By writing themselves into the law as "above the law", I no longer feel particularly feel any moral obligation to obey the law. The only principle that guides my behavior now when it comes to dealing with the RIAA/MPAA is "don't get caught".

Congratulations, you people just created another pirate.

Re:contempt (5, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817369)

Congratulations, you people just created another pirate.

I keep saying that - its a self-fulfilling prophecy.

the more unjust laws that lobbyists create, the more anger and disillusionment the customer (!) base will become.

they have created more pissed-off customers than they realize. so any laws just become ignored by those in the current generation.

I wonder where this will end? where will it extrapolate to? will the media industry ever 'get it'? this is an arms race and its not heading toward any kind of stability and in fact its heading quite out of control.

our politicians are creating favorable laws for themselves and their lobbyist contributors. big business is having a cream-fest with all the new laws that have been passed in the last several years, to their benefit and to the detriment of the consumer.

I encourage people to decide for themselves if they should follow UNJUST LAWS or not. for a long time, slavery was allowed and perfectly legal and laws supported it. it was bad to follow such laws back then and similarly, when you find bad laws its your patriotic duty to ignore them.

we can't seem to change the laws - the power base is not ours. so, what we have left is to nullify the laws by challenging them and refusing to follow them.

LONG LIVE CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.

Re:contempt (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818531)

And this is exactly what's dangerous about such laws. I'm not even saying anymore "with your attitude", because I can't defend the laws anymore myself. I can't advocate following the law anymore.

When the definition of a "good person" changes from "someone who doesn't break the law" to "someone who breaks unjust laws", because if you didn't the term "good person" could not be applied anymore, something is horribly wrong with the legal system.

Microsoft has tried this... (1)

joyfeather (1167073) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817005)

Isn't this what Microsoft tried with WGA? And you know the rest of THAT story....

Re:Microsoft has tried this... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818549)

Well, they didn't have legislative power back then. That's the difference now.

Re:Microsoft has tried this... (1)

joyfeather (1167073) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818853)

Whether or not you have legislative backing, it certainly creates bad PR for a company when they cripple a fully licensed piece of software because their system mistakenly identified it as pirated.

Already in windows. (1)

frup (998325) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817033)

Isn't WGA already an example of this? If this sort of thing is prevalent in proprietary software it can be nothing but good for FOSS. At least one or two ignorant proprietary users will flap their ears and try FOSS instead. Those two users will tell their friends and they may change as well.

UCITA isn't dead (3, Informative)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817047)

The summary acts like the UCITA failed and is trying to come back. But UCITA passed Maryland and Virginia, and probably some other states too. I think Massachusetts actually passed an anti-UCITA law.

Some exceptions are necessary (2, Insightful)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817063)

Without exceptions like those, things like the code that prevents (or at least discourages) the use of bots in games like WoW would be rendered illegal. Examining your system memory is *exactly* what the law is designed to prevent, and anti-bot code has to do just that.

Yeah, maybe they could come up with a lot more specifics, thus making the law a lot more unreadable and drawn out, and potentially causing headaches for any circumstances that were left out. But I'm afraid there will probably have to be some sort of exceptions made along the lines of "unathorized software" and/or "fraudulent use" that are potentially over-generalized.

Re:Some exceptions are necessary (3, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817505)

Without exceptions like those, things like the code that prevents (or at least discourages) the use of bots in games like WoW would be rendered illegal. Examining your system memory is *exactly* what the law is designed to prevent, and anti-bot code has to do just that.
Why are your bloody games more important than my right to enjoy the use of my property without extrajudicial interference? I actually do work with my machine and might not let want it tampered with by a vendor who has another "Genuine Advantage" bug.

It's not like WoW is more important than due process rights.

(Not that that's what the bill actually does, but I'm kind of horrified to see someone supporting what the article purports that it to.)

Re:Some exceptions are necessary (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817901)

...Why are your bloody games more important than my right to enjoy the use of my property without extrajudicial interference? ...

Because your lobbyist doesn't contribute as much to the appropriate candidates' election campaigns?

Re:Some exceptions are necessary (3, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817907)

what this might mean (if it actually comes to pass as a body of new laws) is that people will hard partition their various activities.

ie, a work machine (or even many discrete ones), a home machine, a machine that can be task-related and shared, a machine that is ONLY private stuff and no commercial software, etc etc.

so if there has to be 'crap' installed on some box, don't let it invade on ALL your boxes. partition the systems so that you limit exposure or damage potential. contain the 'viruses', so to speak.

there was a slash story about nokia and their 'bright lines' between GPL and private code. same basic idea here but translated to keeping info on separate boxes and limiting what kind of programs get installed on each 'type' of box.

PITA to have to think in those terms, though! ...I really hate the way laws are mostly just BAD, these days ;( I can't think of a single GOOD LAW they've passed in, well, YEARS.

Re:Some exceptions are necessary (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818609)

PITA to have to think in those terms, though! ...I really hate the way laws are mostly just BAD, these days ;( I can't think of a single GOOD LAW they've passed in, well, YEARS.

It's been quite a run, yes. The average thought that enters my mind when I read about a new law is usually "ok, how're they gonna screw me over this time?". Somehow I think it shouldn't be that way. Laws should be to the benefit of the general population. I might not agree with all of them. I might not benefit from all of them. But I should at the very least benefit from some of them.

So either the majority of laws passed these days aren't really to the benefit of the majority or I'm a really oddball and belong to such a tiny minority that I simply get screwed every single time.

Re:Some exceptions are necessary (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818581)

I hope we can agree that it's a difference between infecting your machine with bogus CD drivers (aka "copy protection mechanisms") and bot-sniffing malware, and having it crammed down your throat, yes?

I don't give a rat's ass about Blizzard or any other company trying to protect their precious game, if they infect my machine "just in case I might install" some of their crapware, I'll answer with a sensible DDoS. Let's see how much bandwidth those servers can really swallow.

I would be open to this, *IF* (3, Interesting)

maynard (3337) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817099)

I would be open to this if the legislation placed control of whether software on a privately owned computer should be disabled in the hands of a court rather than in the hands of the software vendor. The problem with this legislation, and all DRM, is that it hands much too much control over to the vendor, which is a conflict of interest. Governments exist to protect property rights, not private corporations or individuals.

I haven't read this legislation. But UCITA most certainly did not do that; it placed control completely in the hands of the software vendor (copyright holder). I think this type of DRM could fly with a real adjudication process that's fair and fully public.

Does the government know? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817107)

It's one thing to be bought and/or rented by industry lobbyists. It's another to have our government's data and operations legally placed in jeopardy in the event some jackass might have installed some application that contains some code that disables the computer and/or network in the event it believes it is pirated or otherwise running in a way that conflicts with its license.

This could also do very bad things to businesses under similar circumstances. And before any claims "but your users shouldn't be allowed to install software!" I'll remind you that this is Windows we're talking about where way too much software won't even run unless the user has administrator privileges.

Trojan? (1)

beaverbrother (586749) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817115)

Perhaps I'll sell a trojan for $0.99. Then I'll be able to access computers legally of people who do not pay for a license.

Re:Trojan? (2, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817243)

So, you write and distribute a trojan. If the trojan works properly, you get to snoop about the users PCs and find out what you want to know then hose their system. If it doesn't work properly, you can claim violation of your property rights, and then inspect their systems and finally hose them.

Today seems to be a good day for people wanting to cause grief on the net.

Boy, I hope that Google makes a violation claim against Microsoft. Let the battle begin!

Lobbyist = Death to America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23817131)

Yet another reason why NOT to use proprietary software... these bills are moronic the people running America don't know jack shit about computers why the fuck are they trying to come up with laws to fix them.

I feel Lobbyist undertow from every one of these bills its going to get to a point that they hide what they really want so sell in a huge bill that no one will ever see it, let alone the people that voted to pass the bill. And its only going to take ONE - one congress person brought down by these types of laws for the rest of the morons in Washington to see why trying to legislate computers is dumb. The market it's self with find an answer for crop-rights long before the government will do anything meaningful to help out the situation

copyright is a outdated idea that needs to GTFO
There has to be a better way, more red tape isn't the answer

When thing go wrong (1)

yoldapirate (1304207) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817203)

You know something is utterly wrong when corporations decide to bypass the users and go directly to(enforce) "propose" a law to the same politicians they support with money in their campaigns to help them selfs convince you that they have the right solution for the economy your wealth and the good of the community. "Sick of the oil prices? the economy is bad, so consider this as a new law that will help the economy and benefit you!" (sarcasm)

Back Doors (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817273)

Isn't this just what foreign governments would love to have to manipulate, say, our armed forces?

Re:Back Doors (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818631)

Armed forces, c'mon. Too much manpower involved, too much custom software.

I'd start by tapping into your economy. Lots of Windows machines, lots of standard software, lots of computer illiterates with a lot of interesting information and even more power (read: bankers, brokers, accountants and auditors).

Why not make some important bank sell all their stock for a company you want to take over cheaply?

Publicity is key (2, Interesting)

vanyel (28049) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817317)

...as Sony learned with the rootkit. Any software that does crap like that will quickly find itself shunned like the malware it is...

Re:Publicity is key (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818673)

Yeah, Sony is about to go broke really soon now...

Face it, people don't remember, even if they knew. Mr. Hesse (the Sony PR guy at that time) had it right. Why should people be bothered by our rootkit, most don't even know what it is. And that's pretty much how it is. People still buy Sony crap, people still even buy Sony content, no fallout at all from this.

What would happen if some company decided to use this new "feature"? Why am I writing in subjunctive, what will happen when some company decides to use this new "feature"? You'll get a few people who have to rebuild their systems because they were shut down wrongfully, someone will be important enough to warrant a story on some computer news page, people will cry bloody murder, you'll find petition pages all over the internet, together with calls for boycotting the offender's products which will get a lot of "oh yeah, for sure I will!" claims, and after two to four weeks nobody will remember.

Except for the 99% average people, they won't even notice. Unless their computer is being hijacked, molested and trashed too, but except them and maybe their closest friends nobody will care. And then they will dig out their Windows CD and start reinstalling while cursing MS.

Re:Publicity is key (1)

vanyel (28049) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818793)

Sony may not be going broke, but they stopped the rootkit. Even as big as they are, perhaps *because* they're as big as they are, publicity matters.

Contact your Senators! (2, Informative)

querist (97166) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817319)

I've contacted mine! I have the distinct pleasure of being on one of my senators' "short list" of people to consult in computer issues, especially computer security issues (due to my Ph.D. in the subject), so I've already told him that this is a bad idea.

Please contact your senators!

Re:Contact your Senators! (3, Informative)

querist (97166) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817331)

I know - I shouldn't reply to my own posts, but...

If any of you have recognizable credentials in the field, please try to contact your senator or congressperson and offer your assistance in these matters. I've received a very grateful response from my senator for this offer, and I've been called by his office before with questions about issues.

Here's a chance to have more than your "fair share" of influence in certain matters.

Take advantage of it.

cut their cables (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23817345)

So I would be able to go cut the cables with impunity of any entity I thought had misappropriated my business data?

Dumbasses, twice (5, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817351)

Point the first: If they think this won't get hacked, they're out of their freaking minds. You think spyware is bad now, just leave a huge hole in your OS where other people can come in and change stuff. This proposal will make the problem worse, day one. Or should I say 0-day.

Point the second: Accountability. Assuming this could get implemented and be magically unhackable, what all are they actually allowed to do, and who will oversee this?

Put another way, let's say I release an email client that is legal to use for non-commercial purposes. May I read all of your email to see that you're sticking to the EULA? May I delete the ones that are commercial?

How far can this go, and what checks and balances do they propose?

Re:Dumbasses, twice (1)

cypherwise (650128) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817661)

Point the first: If they think this won't get hacked, they're out of their freaking minds.
Exactly.

What about just blocking the network traffic coming in that was controlling this bot? Would most vendors even consider implementing some type of authentication mechanism communicate with the offending software? Would it matter? Who the hell would use the crapware anyway?

Re:Dumbasses, twice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23818597)

These are great points to bring up in an email to your senator. If you're crazy and slick enough you could mention the recent news of Representatives announcing that their computers had been hacked by the Chinese, that might get your email noticed and give it more influence.

Constittutional (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817405)

Any chance this violates the Constitution's provisions against (a) due process, and (b) unreasonable search and seizure?

Re:Constitutional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23817707)

(a) no, and (b) no. Those provisions only apply to governmental actions and thus wouldn't affect the commercial entities. Of course, that wouldn't really change much since the current administration has spent the last seven years violating our rights to due process and indulging in warrantless and otherwise unreasonable searches in the guise of "security."

We have to destroy property in order to save it... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817413)

There is something deeply ironic about a lot of the hyperagressive IP enforcement stuff going around. Orrin Hatch's self-destructing computers, Fritz chips, and now "electronic self help". All of these things are deeply antithetical to the notion of private property; but advanced under the banner of protecting private property.

I'm surprised(but not too surprised) that this sort of thing doesn't get more attention from the free enterprise and private property crowd; it is, after all, a much greater threat than any of the pitiful remnants of Communism that still survive. If this sort of stuff persists, it will, in effect, be illegal to own almost any computerized device(sure, you'll own the actual hardware; but the software and firmware will be licenced-revocable-at-will from dozens of different firms, all with the authority to poke at your device whenever they want). I'm sure that some of the true believers will comfort themselves with the fact that it isn't the State that is to blame; but private property will be just as dead as if it were.

Other Countries (1)

jasonmanley (921037) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817485)

So how does this effect me if I live outside of the USA and don't have a clue what the U.S constitution or Bill Of Rights says? Does my country's laws kick in? Because if it is all electronic then surely they can stretch across borders and mess with my system too.

Huh? (1)

zish (174783) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817543)

"UCITA By the Back Door" Hmmm, Unsolicited Computer In The Anus? Is it somehow related to UFIA?

An excellent idea (0)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | more than 5 years ago | (#23817783)

There should be a bill as follows: Once per month, your computer locks up and stops working completely, and you have to pay $250 each into the accounts of the RIAA, MPAA, and Microsoft to regain control of your computer. This is $250 to each entity, per computer. If you use Linux or other such rogue malware, the charge is $500 to the RIAA, $500 to the MPAA, and $9500 to Microsoft. Failure to pay within 24 hours results in the hardware frying itself, after deleting all your files. It would be a shame if that would happen, so you should pay up to "protect" your system from such a fate.

I encourage BSA members "losing" money (3, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818007)

I unashamedly admit that I deprived BSA members of profits, and at least weekly encourage clients to do the same.

I encourage the use of BSA-profit-depriving alternatives such as:

  * Linux rather than Windows
  * The OpenOffice.org and OxygenOffice suites rather than Microsoft Office
  * Thunderbird or Evolution+Lightning rather than Outlook
  * Moon Secure rather than the buggy, resource-hogging Symantec antivirus
  * Scalix, Zimbra, or even good old Postfix rather than Exchange
  * Mozilla Firefox rather than the insecure MSIE
  * Spybot S&D rather than commercial (OK this one is freeware not F/OSS but proprietary/free as in beer is great when the payware solutions suck!)
  * ASSP rather than Symantec's crappy spam filter - which after an automatic update deleted every single email attachment in my Exchange Info Store years ago, which prompted my moving almost everything at the office back to Linux. ASSP blocks more spam, incurs fewer false positives, plus it's FREE/OSS! I implement ASSP for clients running both Windows and Linux mail servers.

That isn't to say I am opposed to buying software, nor is open source software a solution for everyone. I pay for my Linux distributions, I buy Crossover Office and Zend Studio, and I just bought a Windows game. There is an intern at one of my clients wanting to get everyone on open source across the board, and was asking me why I didn't do it. I pointed him to the fact that QCAD is 2D-only, PythonCAD is weak, other CAD solutions on Linux are immature, incomplete, incompatible (no LISP), or in planning stages, plus there would be HUGE training issues. Also, they NEED M$ office for some of the programs they need to run, and several engineering programs they use "might" run under wine, but there is no way the execs would approve of the training cost. We're planning a Linux server for them for some time sheet/project billing software, but there is no realistic way they can dump Windows. As it is, I have OOo.org, Firefox, PDF Creator (no more "pirating" Distiller), 7 Zip (no more "pirating" Winzip!), Filezilla (No more "pirating" WS_FTP), and various other F/OSS and freeware programs deployed there. When I pointed that all out he saw the reality of it: F/OSS is not the BFH that works for every solution, but when it can be used, it should be.

In the architecture industry there are few alternatives to AutoCAD or DesignCAD, both of which require Windows.

Also, for syncing up PDAs, smartphones, etc. nothing beats Windows and Exchange+Outlook.

There isn't a good affordable alternative to Quickbooks - and none that I know of that run on Linux.

You're a gamer? CVS Cedega, Cedega, and Crossover Games may play a lot of games, but not all. Like Microsoft Live games? Linux is probably not the best solution for you.

I recommend F/OSS solutions whenever possible, because it's best for the client, it's best for the F/OSS community (exposure), and it helps keep the market forces (read: Microsoft) keep their prices in check.

No, I'm not going to look it up (2, Insightful)

gumpish (682245) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818099)

If you're going to use a 5 letter initialism in the summary and repeatedly in the headline without saying what the fuck it is or at the very least linking it to a definition, I for one can only assume that you don't consider it important enough to warrant the extra 20-50 keystrokes to do so.

This seems odd since the nature of the numerous comments is very alarming, however none of the comments mention what the initialism stands for.

My maill to Miss Hutchison (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818109)

I write in response to bill S. 1625, currently making it's way through the senate.

This bill should not be passed in the state that it is in because it includes exemptions for "telecommunications carriers, cable operators, computer hardware and software providers, financial institutions or providers of information service or interactive computer services..." that could be decremental to consumers. These exemptions grant immunity to such companies and groups to impose on personal privacy for the following reasons as stated under exemption #10 of the bill:"(10) detection or prevention of the unauthorized use of software fraudulent or other illegal activities."

This issue falls under software piracy and not software privacy, which the bill purports to address, namely spyware. Giving companies more power to detect pirated software is not pertinent in protecting against spyware. In fact, it is counter-intuitive to such well-intended efforts, as it will give said companies a considerable measure of control over their customer's computers, an effect that the bill was designed to prevent.

I believe this bill should be dumped on the merits that has been laced, tainted with unrelated details - the desires of lobbyists in the telecommunications and computer software and hardware business - that weigh it down and bend it away from the intended goal of protecting consumers from the dangers of spyware and rogue applications on the internet. Rather, it is being twisted into a government-sanctioned tool for the appeasement of corporate dictators in yet another attempt to hide away their intellectual properties at the consumer's expense. At the tax-payers expense. And at the expense of the liberties of the American people. This is what I protest about proposed bill S. 1625.

Please dump this bill in favor of ratifications that do not seek to satisfy the needs of corporate lobbyists, but rather accomplish the original intent of protecting consumers on the internet.

Speaking of security... (1)

Jimbob The Mighty (1282418) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818201)

Did anybody else misread the article at first as "Utica by the back door"? More to the point, would an Utica by the back door trump UCITA?

Congress Abdicates in Favor of Vigilantes (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818295)

Instead of Congress yanking the FBI off of un-Constitutional privacy violations and other worthless, expensive investigations, in favor of protecting us from software attacks, Congress is abdicating yet more responsibility for protecting us, in favor of giving legal cover for unaccountable vigilantes.

What do we pay those people to do, anyway? Ruin us? We can get that for free.

Re:Congress Abdicates in Favor of Vigilantes (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818729)

You call it vigilantes, but I'm sure they call it privatization of the executive sector.

Lexicon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23818363)

"UCITA By The Back Door"?

Is that like a UFITA?

This is great! (0, Redundant)

ignavus (213578) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818725)

What a wonderful reason for people to switch to FOSS to avoid the nasty spywares.

"Come over to the light side, everyone, where your PC is safe from spying eyes!"

how dare they (1)

HJED (1304957) | more than 5 years ago | (#23818749)

The American senate has no right to do this. it will afect THE WHOLE (IT) WORLD they do not have juristiction
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